To me, October brings such comforting images, such as: autumn leaves, pumpkin fields, cooler days, apple cider, sweaters, and the heralding call of the holiday season.

My decorations almost bounced out of their containers in anticipation.

Imagine how much duller life would be if there were no seasons. No special days to celebrate? Perish the thought.

October is not just the month that holds Halloween night. For me, the month holds so much more.

As a child, I remember celebrating Columbus Day and having to memorize the poem about Columbus’s voyage on the ocean blue in the year 1492. However, that ship has faded away in our memories now with our growing awareness of the atrocities he committed in America.

October recognizes an interesting span of topics to recognize and celebrate, from International Older Persons’ Day to Worlds’ Day Against the Death Penalty. Many issues are highlighted during the month of October, such as Cancer Awareness. Few people have not been touched by this horrible disease.

My life has been riddled with loss due to its clutch. This month marks the 12th Anniversary of my husband Ron’s death from lung cancer. Awareness is important to help raise funds for research and education so we can finally put this beast down.

October is also Mental Health Awareness Month. Although one in five people experience some form of mental health issues, it is kept too much in the shadows and not treated as a disease like any other. Since the invasion of COVID-19, and with the forced enclosure of people around the world, mental health issues have only risen.

We have become more aware of how changes in our life and environment can affect us. It can happen to anyone. Yet, it does not get the same press, funding, and research that other diseases do. As the suicide numbers increase, we see clearly that mental illness affects our overall health and quality of life.

The problem with mental health issues is that they are invisible. They cannot show up on an X-ray. The surge of mass shootings has shown that mental health issues are often discovered too late. As a person who has suffered from severe depression their whole life, I know how hard it can be to get help.

October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Perpetrators of this scourge have often seen it modeled in their own homes of origin. It affects us by death, injury, cost, and the future of our children. Children often repeat what is shown before them. Too often people suffering from this abuse are afraid of reporting it for fear of retribution or out of shame.

This October also is the preamble to next month’s elections. Often non-presidential years do not get the proper amount of coverage or study by the electorate, which shows in the number of actual votes. There is time for us to get educated now. Each of us is affected by these votes. Don’t throw your voice away.

While I have moved from Los Banos, my heart remains there. Thirty-two years grew some very deep roots. I try to keep current on issues that are important to my other home. I just became aware of the resignation of our Mayor, Tom Faria. I was saddened to learn the news but also shocked by his 1-day notice.

There are so many important issues at hand. I feel very sad for Los Banos to unexpectedly lose such a fine man. Tom Faria served our community for over 16-years. That is a tremendous amount of time and effort given to benefit our community. Anyone who steps up to serve should be appreciated. It is often a thankless job.

Tom’s gifts to our community, through the youth in our high schools and their advancement of the appreciation of music, were enormous. Tom is a talented, inspirational, and enthusiastic man. The impact he had on his students and their lives is incalculable.

I will never forget the first time I heard him sing at Saint Joseph’s Church. His voice touched me intensely. As I grew to know him over the years, I learned to respect and admire him as a person. I have done several interviews with him over the years and found him to be a warm and articulate man.

I am shocked and indeed saddened by his absence. I wish him and Bertha luck, but cannot help but wish, as I would have wished for anyone serving in such an important position, for him to give proper notice.

Of course, since this is a commentary page this is just my opinion.

One of the many difficult things about my move from Los Banos after 32 years is realizing that I have no knowledge of my new city. I read the Fresno morning paper, and the names of those in service are foreign to me. Having been extremely active in Los Banos for so many years, it is difficult to learn once more how to get involved. Being an active part of where you live has always been very important to me. I see it as not only a privilege, but a duty.

Our community is our home; we all need to help care for it. While I deeply regretted having to move, I do feel a part of me was left behind—my heart.

Diana J. Ingram

Diana Ingram has been a columnist for Los Banos newspapers for four decades.